"Lawn" - a perfect summer's day
It looks like a summer’s day in a park. The birds are chirping, deck chairs and hammocks are laid out on a rolling lawn, refreshments are available at a lemonade and cookie stall, and if you feel inclined to do something active, a game of croquet is on offer.
But not all is as it seems, because this perfect, dreamy day is inside Washington’s National Building Museum’s Great Hall, an art installation that anyone can be part of. “Lawn” is the sixth instalment of the museum’s Summer Block Party series.
Artificial grass (environmentally friendly) slopes gracefully upward via a scaffolding superstructure. Blue light bends within a tunnel of mirrors providing perfect colouring, and 50 speakers hidden throughout the exhibit create the ambience of carefree, lazy days.
These speakers also provide personal summer memories from the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, Venus Williams and Bette Midler, for you to listen to while reclining in hammocks.
“Hey it’s Whoopi,” Goldberg’s recorded voice says. “If you’re not sure which Whoopi, you probably shouldn’t be on this whole conversation.”
“I’d like to share with you my lawn story,” says Venus Williams, referencing her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2000. “It goes back 19 years.. and I was playing on the lawn of Wimbledon.” You get the idea.
Behind this exhibition is the LAB at Rockwell Group, which calls itself an “experience design studio.” Based in New York, the firm seeks to engineer new ways for built environments to tell stories and engage the senses. By creating custom software, the LAB has developed an augmented reality game for kids and adults to chase and collect fireflies throughout the lawn, allowing them to be released back into the space at the end.
The lawn is activated with summer entertainment and activities, including movie nights, yoga and meditation, and live gigs.
“Rockwell Group’s mission to drive connection through design aligns perfectly with our Summer Block Party series,” says Chase Rynd, executive director of the museum. “The LAB has ingeniously brought a quintessentially American ideal into our Great Hall, highlighting the interplay between design and landscape, while also eliciting a sense of wonder and play among visitors of all ages.”
Rockwell founder and president, David Rockwell, says “the lawn is a fascinating example of a typology that straddles the line between public and private space. Whether it’s a backyard or a public green, lawns bring people together and foster a sense of community. So our goal was to create an indoor lawn that would inspire people to share stories, make memories, and daydream, while honouring the great tradition of summertime.”
“Lawn” is also sustainable. The surface material, provided by SynLawn, is a USDA certified BioPreferred product comprised of sustainably grown sugar cane and a soybean-based backing system. The material is 100% recyclable and will be repurposed after the exhibition closes.
The exhibition is open until September 2.